Thank you very much for your feedback, your several comments made us realize that we need to improve the way we explain the operations of certain tours, because it can cause confusion as it happened with you. I’ll take my time to explain every aspect of your comments:
In regards to your comments about us not providing the correct recommendations, please allow me to explain, because your case is a little different than most travelers to the Guanacaste/Tamarindo area:
In your case we consider you a smart traveler to Costa Rica, why? Because you did your homework about traveling here and found out before you came, that even though the country is small it takes a long time to travel from one touristic destination to the others. You did travel around the country in order to see the main destinations found on the internet, and to see all of those things that make Costa Rica a famous destination: the waterfalls, the rainforests, the wildlife, the good white water rafting, etc. That is not the case with the vast majority of people who travel to the Tamarindo/Guanacaste area, most people who book their vacation there, they assume that because the country is small, one could get from the beach resorts to the main touristic destinations in just a few minutes, but as you already know, that is not the case.
The tours we offer from the Tamarindo/Guanacaste area are for those people who had booked their entire vacation on the beach resorts, but want to see everything you saw during your travels around the country. As you noticed, the Tamarindo Beach area is very good for a beach vacation, but if you only stay there, you miss the real beauty of Costa Rica, therefore, we sell our tours from Guanacaste for people who book their whole vacation there, even if it requires a longer drive to the main touristic destinations. We’ve done tours from Guanacaste over the past 8 years, I’ve guided hundreds of tours from that area myself and had never had a complaint about the driving time, why? Because again, travelers want to see everything you saw during your trip. This being said, in your particular case we couldn’t recommend a tour other than Nicaragua, because every other tour we offer from Tamarindo you had already done at the best locations of the country! Besides, the drive to Nicaragua is not as long as I can tell you where told; it takes 2 hours approx. to get to the border where the tour starts (not an entire day as you said) and then from there, we start hopping from attraction to attraction, which are shorter drives, but during those drives you get to see many things along the way which makes it worth it (this is the same case with the other tours, where we show our customers a lot of our country on those long drives and people appreciated at the end, because that’s the whole purpose of traveling, seeing and experiencing new places). On the Nicaragua tour for instance we stop at the town of Liberia for breakfast, you get to see the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano from the distance, the Orosi Volcano from the distance, the “picturesque” border, the Lake Nicaragua and its 2 volcanoes in an island and the Catarina crater lagoon; people like this tour because it’s only a 3.5 hour drive in total to the furthest part of the tour, but they get to see a lot and they get to visit a new country in one single day!
As to your numbered comments, here are the answers:
1. Zip lining/rafting combo tour: You seem to be upset because you had to stop to pick up other people for the tour, just to be clear, you purchased our regular group tour and any group tour that I know of around the world, stops to pick up other tourists from the different hotels. If you wanted to go in a private vehicle just with your companions, you should’ve told us and we would’ve been more than happy to arrange that type of service for you, but of course, that type of service costs more whether you book it with us or any other company. My apologies if you were under the impression that we were going to take you to Braulio Carrillo National Park, but we NEVER said that we were going to take you there. As our website says, we drive through Braulio Carrillo National Park on the way to the rafting and zip lining adventures, but we never said that a hike or any other activity was included at the Braulio Carrillo Park, please check the detailed inclusions on your payment form and you will confirm this for yourself; same with the Aerial Tram, we normally do the zip lining at the Aerial Tram Park, but it does not says anywhere in your inclusions that a ride on the Aerial Tram was included. Just to keep being clear, the Aerial Tram’s zip lining tour didn't have more space for that day (you came for Christmas week, the busiest time of the year), so you were taken to another zip lining location that is just like the one at the Aerial Tram’s Park (we reserve our right to switch it if necessary). Thanks for the nice comments about the rafting at the Sarapiqui River; I guess not everything was so disappointing… The Sarapiqui River is only 1.5 hours from San Jose, but it takes a little longer at the time you came because of the Christmas traffic. In fact, it is in our opinion as tour guides, the best class II-III white water rafting of the whole country, that’s why we took you there. Why didn’t we take you to a better zip lining location? Because the one we took you to, is one of the best available close to the Sarapiqui River. The zip lining tour you did is considered as a good standard zip lining tour and you are right, there are much better zip lining places in other parts of Costa Rica, but not close to the Sarapiqui River where the best rafting is. We offer this tour as a more economical way of experiencing both adventures on the same day (I’m guessing that’s why you bought it), but we NEVER told you that it was the best zip lining. If you would've asked us about the best zip lining in Costa Rica, we would've made the recommendations accordingly as a separate trip.
2. Costa Rica snorkeling and Sunset Sail tour: In regards to your bad experience with the snorkeling-sunset tour, your travel advisor Flavio deeply apologizes for the inconveniences caused; he made a mistake for which we take full responsibility that lead to the problems you had. By mistake, he set your pickup place at the Barcelo Langosta Resort 1 mile away from your place, when he should’ve just told you to walk the 200 yards from your place to the departure point. What happened is that he was working on another customer’s reservation along with yours, and forgot to change your pickup place (even though we are all extremely careful and detailed oriented when we do this kind of work, this was one of those mistakes that I think we all make at the office at least once in our lives).
The visibility of the snorkeling tour was not the best not because it was done in the afternoon, but because it was done on a very windy day (when it’s windy, the visibility for snorkeling is not good anywhere in the world). You are exaggerating about “being left stranded”, because there was a person at the beach coordinating the transports; as well as the small motor boat operator, you simply had to wait a few minutes for the next vehicle to arrive, as the rest of the people in the second motor boat had to do it.
3. 6 in 1 combo tour in Arenal: Here you are not very specific as to how a lot of time was wasted; I’m guessing that for you to go to the beautiful La Fortuna Waterfall was a waste of time, as well as going to the amazing Arenal Hanging Bridges and the volcano hike. Just to be clear to other members of this prestigious travel forum, when you do a full day combo tour packed with activities, there is one that obviously has to be done at the end of the day, in this case, the hot springs is the best option to leave it for last, so the participants can relax in the hot pools after a full day of activities. Just for the record, ALL companies in this area who operate this tour go to the hot springs at the end of the day. If all you wanted to do was to get to the hot springs quickly, you should have told us since the beginning and we would've gladly arranged a trip for you to go just to the hot springs. We also appreciate your nice words about this tour, again, I guess not all was “extremely disappointing"
Thanks again for your comments; we will do our best to explain to future clients how the tours are done to avoid confusion.